BViz Canine Couture Collection
article by Maré Brennan
Becky Vizard, the St. Joseph native and designer who introduced the world to most extravagant pillows made with antique fabrics and trims sourced from around the globe, is known for her Steve Jobs-like ability to see a need and fill it as well as her ability to take left-overs, find the beauty and create a masterpiece, like her Beer-de-lier, a chandelier made with colorful recycled bottle caps, or her collectible mini-Christmas stockings made from fabric and trim scraps that she can’t bear to throw away. Her newest venture, the BViz Canine Couture Collection, is no exception in that it combines gorgeous Venetian fabrics, a need to repurpose and great design to give pampered pets a little neck lift.
BayouLife: You are world famous for your pillows which are works of art, collected and treasured by sheiks and prized by designers. What do you find most different between your pillow work and the collars and leads?
Becky Vizard: With the BViz Canine Couture Collection, I’m not spending as much time going over each design like I do with the pillows. But it appears people agonize over which color or pattern to buy like I agonize over my pillow designs…so I guess there is a similarity.
BL: You are the ultimate fabric/textile conservator/recycler. How does that trait play a role in the dog collar venture?
BViz: I kept saving these scraps thinking there had to be something I could make with them, and it thrills me to be able to use every inch of the fabric! But sadly I’ve already gone through all of the scraps, and now am getting into my Fortuny inventory….yes, we are selling more dog collars than pillows!
BL: What made you think, “I think I’ll make a dog collar from this gorgeous fabric?”
BViz: I had just hung some fabulous curtains from Coleman Taylor Textiles (A wonderful custom fabric company from Montgomery, Alabama) and Lucille, our Brittany Spaniel, could not stop looking at them. Either she was not used to seeing the window with floor length curtains, or she has incredibly good taste and was just stunned! For 3 days, every time she got to the top of the stairs, she would just stop and stare at the curtains…sometimes even bark. I took a photo of her entranced by these beautiful curtains, and her reflective hunting collar just ruined the shot. I sent it to Sarah, my daughter in New Orleans (who works for Gerrie Bremermann in New Orleans) and Sarah said, “Mom, you need to make collars out of Fortuny fabric.” It was a light bulb moment, because I have been saving the one inch borders from the fabric for years, not sure what I was going to do with them, but hated to throw them out because the fabric is so gorgeous and expensive.
BL: Was Lucille your test model?
BViz: Yes, we made a prototype for Lucille, and she immediately bolted through the soybean field in front of our house and came back with green slime all over her cream and silvery gold collar of Orsini Fortuny. I thought, “Well that was the dumbest idea I’ve ever had.” I retreated to the studio to design pillows and didn’t really think about it again until that afternoon when we jumped in Lake Bruin for our afternoon swim. Lo and behold Lucille emerged from the lake in a pristine cream and silvery gold collar of Orsini Fortuny! I called the guys who own Fortuny to tell them of this discovery, and they LOVED it! They said people constantly call them to ask how to clean their fabric, and it would be tempting to say, “For the best results, submerge in lake water!”
BL: How are the collars constructed? Is it a difficult process?
BViz: It was very difficult to get to this stage. We tried many different ways of covering the nylon webbing plus many kinds of hardware. We finally found a collar with a thick linen webbing and discovered it doesn’t hold smells and is easily washable…and just much nicer not to use a synthetic material. We also had to give up making them here, because we needed industrial machines. But I did find a very talented lady in Louisiana with a small factory, and she is lovely to work with. That only took about a hundred phone calls!
BL: Where can we purchase collars and leashes for our lucky dogs?
BViz: The BViz Canine Couture Collection can be purchased online at www.bviz.com or by calling 318.766.4950. Gerrie Bremermann in New Orleans, Indulge in Houston and Annelle Primos in Jackson also have the line. The collars sizes and prices can be found on the bviz.com website.
BL: What’s new on your horizon? Any upcoming shows? Where we can find your work?
BViz: The collars were featured in House Beautiful in January. By June we had leashes, and the collars and leashes were featured in this August’s Architectural Digest.
I have a few speaking engagements for clubs this fall, and some possible pillow shows around the country in November, but I’m getting ready for my son’s wedding in Nashville this October. And yes, I’m having a jacket made of Campanelle Fortuny fabric. I’m saying it’s for the rehearsal dinner, but truthfully, I just want to match Lucille!